The Most Dangerous Shoulder Exercises

The shoulder is the most mobile joint in the body. This puts it in a vulnerable position in many exercises. Technically, the shoulder can take a lot of abuse but once it’s hurt – it’s never the same.

There are many small muscles and tendons around the shoulder joint that are easily damaged. Below is a list of dangerous shoulder exercises. In general, if you are not prepared and do not follow the right progression you are risking possible injuries.

1.Bench Press


The bench press is a solid upper body exercise. It works the chest, the triceps and the front deltoids. Unfortunately, many people use the bench press as a way to measure self-worth. When the ego takes over, there is always a chance to hurt yourself.

People are constantly training to “outbench” each other. They pay no attention to form and end up with overuse injuries such as tendonitis or acute injuries – rotator cuff tears. Since the bench press does not allow the scapula to move freely there are also a lot of injuries caused by impingement.

What to do? Make sure you have proper technique and avoid using a wide grip. The wide grip bench press has destroyed a lot of shoulder joints. Also, just because the bench press is popular, it does not mean that you have to do it every training session. Keep your ego in check – even if you cannot bench a lot of weight, you are still lifting more than you would lift after a surgery.

2.Chair dips a.k.a. Triceps Dips

Bodyweight exercises are great, but not all of them. The so-called chair/bench dip is very stressful to the shoulder joint. In fact, it’s even more stressful than the regular dip. The reason is the immense stretch at the front of the shoulder. Stay away from the chair dips unless you are certain your shoulders can handle it. The

What to do? Stick to push-ups and regular dips to avoid the extreme shoulder stretch during triceps dips. Don’t worry this is plenty for your triceps muscles.

3.Behind the neck overhead press

The behind the neck press sucks. The range of motion is too short and the stress on the shoulder is insane. It’s a thing of the past.

What to do? Sick to there the regular military press in front of the neck. It will make your shoulders stronger and healthier.

4.Machines designed for shoulder exercises

The machines designed for shoulders are dangerous because they force an unnatural path. No matter how fancy the equipment looks stay away from machines. They are really hard on the shoulder joint. Stick to free wights. They allow you to find a groove.

What to do? Use the shoulder machines to hang your jacket and for nothing else.

5.Vince Gironda Dips

Vince Gironda’s dips suck. They will wreck your shoulder in no time. Of course, if the shoulder joint is prepared to handle the stress you are less likely to experience pain. Regardless of that the exercise is very dangerous and puts the shoulder capsule and rotator cuff in a super vulnerable position.

What to do? Do regular dips instead of Vince Gironda’s variation. The latter may promote more chest stimulation but is it worth risking your shoulder integrity?

Related article: How To Use Dips As a Primary Chest Exercise

6.Smith machines exercises

Anything you do for your shoulders on the smith machines is dangerous. Similar to the Hammer strength machines the Smith is a sucky choice. It places the shoulder in a fixed path. Avoid the Smith machine at all costs.

What to do? Use free weights instead of the Smith machine to allow your shoulder to move in a more natural arch.

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